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I have read the sentence:

Qual è la differenza tra voler bene e amare?

I know that there is an apocope at the end of the verb "volere" in this sentence. Is it required or optional?

Is euphony the motivation of this apocope? Given that euphony principles are arbitrary in each language ("to sound good" is subjective), it is not clear to me which cacophony is prevented here by removing the final E. Could someone explain?

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Yes. The only relevant reason for the apocope is euphony. There's no difference between 'voler bene' and 'volere bene'.

There is instead an important difference in meaning between 'voler(e) bene' (= to be fond of someone, which doesn't imply romantic relationship) and 'amare' (to love someone)

You can say 'ti voglio bene' to a relative or a close friend, you say 'ti amo' to your romantic partner or significant other.

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  • As I said in my question, I don't understand what cacophony is prevented with this apocope. Why "voler bene" supposedly sounds better than "volere bene" ? – Alan Evangelista Feb 1 at 23:36
  • No cacophony at all. It's - I think - just a matter of metric (different number of syllables) and how the phrasing flows. It's exactly the same sentence, but one form may just "fit better" over the other in some contexts because more elegant or simply "sounds better". Edit: if you read Italian you can find an interesting thread here: italian.stackexchange.com/questions/4083/… – godzillante Feb 4 at 14:36
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The apocope is not required. In the spoken language I'd say "volere bene".

This seems to me a pretty old fashioned euphony. An example (the only one that comes to my mind) is from this scene of "8 1/2", a film from the '60.

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  • 2
    Welcome to Italian.SE! – Charo Dec 1 '19 at 16:35
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    Maybe that depends on the region of Italy the speaker comes from? I know a Tuscan and I think he would say "voler bene" even in spoken language. – Charo Dec 1 '19 at 16:41
  • It certainly does, ultimately I'd say it is a matter of habit – Gitana Dec 1 '19 at 16:49
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    I would definitely use the apocope in this case (although I agree that it is optional), I don't think it is "old fashioned" as such. – Denis Nardin Dec 1 '19 at 18:05
  • A quick perusal of Google Books Ngram Viewer shows that voler bene is far more usual than volere bene and, if anything, more so now than in some past times: books.google.com/ngrams/… – DaG Dec 31 '19 at 17:19

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